• americanapparel.net

    Made in Bangladesh

    American Apparel’s Latest Misstep

    The fast-fashion retailer has made yet another questionable decision, releasing a new ad that turns edgy into just plain distasteful.

    American Apparel—the controversial retailer known for its outspoken CEO and its provocative advertisements—has unveiled its latest campaign. The ad features a topless model of South Asian descent, with the words ‘MADE IN BANGLADESH’ boldly printed across her chest and a detailed account of her background.

    “[Maks] is a merchandiser who has been with American Apparel since 2010. Born in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, Maks vividly remembers attending mosque as a child alongside her conservative Muslim parents. At age four, her family made a life changing move to Marina Del Rey, California. Although she suddenly found herself a world away from Dhaka, she continued following her parent's religious traditions and sustained her Islamic faith throughout her childhood. Upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions. A woman continuously in search of new creative outlets, Maks unreservedly embraced this photo shoot.

  • Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma who was found alive seventeen days after the building collapsed, May 10, 2013. (AFP/Getty)

    Safety Stitch

    Protecting the Women Who Make Your Jeans

    An interview with the woman who represents 3.5 million of Bangladesh’s female garment workers.

    On the three-month anniversary of the collapse of a clothing factory at Rana Plaza, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, that killed more than 1,100 workers—the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry—politicians and international retailers alike have begun to respond to the public outcry for improved labor conditions. On July 15 the Bangladeshi Parliament approved a new labor law that strengthens workers’ rights; the week before, 17 North American companies—including Wal-Mart, Gap, and Target—announced a plan to improve safety standards. But the initiatives to emerge from the rubble are just a starting point, says one of the country’s most outspoken workers’-rights advocates, Kalpona Akter.

    As the founder and executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Akter represents the 3.5 million women who are the engines behind the country’s biggest business. The mission, for her, is deeply personal: after her father became sick and could no longer support her family, then-12-year-old Akter began earning $6 a month for 400 hours of backbreaking work in the factories. She kept up the struggle for years, until she was fired in 2000 for attempting to organize some of her co-workers into a union. Akter spoke with The Daily Beast about the underbelly of some of the world’s biggest clothing brands and why American women should be paying attention.

  • A sewing machine lies in the rubble from the collapsed garment factory building, Saturday, May 4, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the aftermath of last week's building collapse that killed hundreds of people, Bangladesh's garment manufacturers may face a choice of reform or perish. (Wong Maye-E/AP)

    Purchasing Power

    Vetting Products Made Overseas

    After a garment-factory collapse killed hundreds of workers in Bangladesh, the director of social consciousness for Eileen Fisher shares tips on how to determine if a company is being socially responsible abroad.

    I’m a fairly typical suburban consumer: wife, mother of two school-age girls, living in a diverse community north of New York City. My free time is spent helping with homework, detangling hair, sorting laundry, weeding the garden, and cooking dinner.  And I confess to an obsession with Downton Abbey and Mad Men.

    But that’s not all. By day, I’m the director of social consciousness for women’s clothing brand Eileen Fisher. It is a role I inhabit with utter humility and gratitude. My work is not a job; it is a precious opportunity to make a lasting difference in this fleeting life.

  • Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

    Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury will be first female speaker in country’s history.

    Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury is set to be nominated as Bangladesh’s first-ever female speaker of Jatiya Sangsad, the country’s Parliament. Chaudhury is the state minister for women and children’s affairs, and she was awarded the Asia Society’s humanitarian service award in 2010 for her work preventing domestic violence. A lawyer by practice, Chaudhury spent 15 years as an advocate for the Supreme Court—where she was a panel lawyer for current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. On April 13, Hasina had expressed a desire to fill the vacant speaker’s position with a woman, and Chaudhury’s election is all but guaranteed with her Awami League’s majority voting bloc.



    Bangladesh’s Miracle Baby

    Woman gave birth to healthy son trapped beneath rubble of collapsed garment factory.

    A rescuer who helped pull workers from the rubble of a terrifying garment-factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, told the U.K. Telegraph that a woman and her tiny new baby were among those rescued earlier this week. According to the man, the mother gave birth to a baby boy while trapped underneath the debris. They were rescued after six hours. The mother did not appear to have suffered serious injuries. “The baby was crying,” he told The Telegraph. “The umbilical chord was still there.” Rescuers continue to search for survivors among the concrete and steel debris, and one said he thought more than 100 people could still be trapped inside the building, even as officials say the victims would have difficulty going for more than 72 hours without food or water.